Mixtape Monday 2010 vol. 2

Lives of Crime- Fruit Bats

Remember how Garden State made the little known band The Shins smash hit indie darlings, how exciting it was to be hearing, discovering this new band along with Zach Braff’s character when he put on those huge headphones.  Well the Fruit Bats just might be next with one of there songs (When U Love Somebody) featured on the soundtrack of Youth in Revolt the new Michael Cera vehicle, which is bound to attract the indie masses because it’s Michael Cera.  Fruit Bats are from the same mold as The Shins, refreshingly inventive and retrospective at the same time.

New Kind of Love- Plants and Animals

Few bands have the skill to make a song 6 + minutes entirely listenable.  Plants  and Animals are one of the few, this song comes off like a mellowed Arcade Fire meeting with an ethereal Nick Drake, the arrangement is vast but at the same time endearing and homespun, and an absolute blast with headphones.

The Bed’s Too Big Without You- The Police

The Police weren’t entirely unknown at the time, Roxanne and Can’t Stand Losing You and So Lonely had guaranteed that on their previous debut effort.  Regatta de Blanc showcased their new signature sound and pushed them into stardom and this song is an oft forgotten highlight of the album.

Witness Blues- A.A. Bondy

Bob Dylan affected his audience so well due to his direct approach and wonderful narrative lyrics, A.A. Bondy may just be the closest comparison to the Dylan mystique and he well deserves it.

La Mar – The Beautiful Girls

Achingly introspective and beautifully understated, this song reaches into your emotions and doesn’t let go.  The lo-fi production and simple acoustic arrangement only make this song better.

Anne- John Frusciante

Sans the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante is a wholly new animal.  Featuring a Cat Stevens-esque croon, Anne starts out stark with beautiful acoustic accompaniment before expanding into a full blown creative arrangement.  A wonderful talent.

Joe’s Waltz- The Dodos

Many bands have their own sound, but the Dodos go even further, there is no other band that features their musical DNA, inventive in their arrangements and deceptively simple, they make a waltz sound like an entirely new style.

The Danger Zone- Susan Tedeschi

Susan Tedeschi isn’t the only country and blues styled guitar slinging singer but she’s one of the best, with a voice that belongs in a category alongside Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, and Aretha Franklin.

Willow Tree- G. Love and Special Sauce

I dream for the day that Beck and G. Love collaborate for they both have their own genius touch on blending musical styles, for now this is the closest I’ll get. Creative, laid back groove and tight soulful harmony.

Caught by the River- The Doves

The song you wished Coldplay and Oasis had written so you wouldn’t feel so guilty for saying you liked them, vast and beautifully arranged.

Help Yourself- Sad Brad Smith

Featured in Up in Air, this song harkens back to the best of CSNY and Simon and Garfunkel with beautiful harmonies and acoustic guitars going back and forth and yet with an arrangement that’s completely original, just one of those songs where beautiful seems to be the only word that fits perfectly. I don’t care if Up in Air wins any awards for its film merits, but it should for this song.

Please Be Patient With Me- Wilco

As great of a full band Wilco is, they have a magical quality when they tone it down to just guitars and vocals.

For No One- The Beatles

Eleanor Rigby gets a lot of credit for it, but mark my words; in terms of arrangement, production, lyrics and delivery, For No One is simply one of the best songs in the entire Beatles catalogue and is Paul McCartney’s lonely masterpiece and its over far too soon.

Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll)- George Harrison

Simply put, the best all around song on All Things Must Pass the arrangement is full of mystical and haunting beauty and proves once and for all George’s ability as a songwriter.

Futures- Zero 7

Wonderfully unique in its arrangement and production with a beautiful voice to boot.  One of those melodies that will just keep rolling around in your head, a brooding kind of song.

American Hearts- A.A. Bondy

The most beautifully written piece of Americana this decade, Dylan himself would be green with envy.

Take Me Out of the City- Dawes

Not many bands can tone down their arrangement and let their harmonies dominate to create a song of utter beauty.  Dawes is one of them and it would be hard to find a band who does it better.

First Mixtape Monday of 2010

The Only One Loving You- Lee Fields

Slow burner with that straight from the 70’s soul sound.  Not even Al Green could have sung this better and that vintage sound mmmm, how was it this song only came out in 2009?

Handle With Care- Traveling Wilburys

Super-group in the truest sense, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.  All these men had a career by themselves, here they aren’t focused on the money, just on music and having fun and it shows and trading off vocals is a nice touch; Lynne, Petty, and Dylan form a tight backing harmony and both Orbison and Harrison have nice leads.  Nice guitar and harmonica touches too.

Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)- Cymbals Eat Guitars

Great new song by one of the finest new bands of 2009.  The swirling arrangement, tight organic harmonies and compelling narrative make this song work.

Sky Blue Sky- Wilco

I had long forgotten about the timelessness of this song until I heard it reworked in a simple accordion and acoustic guitar arrangement.  There is always beauty in simplicity.

Save Me From What I Want- St. Vincent

Another musician that came up big in 2009, think Fiest and Carly Simon with Of Montreal like touches, surreal and beautiful.

Sexy Sadie- The Beatles

Sadie is an underrated masterpiece by John Lennon.  Completely frustrated with how things with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had turned out, Lennon put his sardonic wit to the task , taking an innocent 50’s progression and turning upside down, this music had been Lennon’s influence and were always ripe with stories of falling in/ finding your love. This time he had the love and now he wants it gone. The uplift of the bridge only to bring things back to where they were before symbolizes Lennon’s message perfectly, they thought they had found enlightenment and realized they were taken advantage of.  This dry production and 50’s rock and roll style arrangement would be a hallmark of Lennon’s solo career.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun- The Beatles

Because everything about this song is masterfully done, the arrangement, the illustrative lyricism, the biting delivery and again a revamp of 50’s rock progressions.  No one could describe the dark side of psychedelics and isolation like Lennon could.

Beware of Darkness- George Harrison

By the time The Beatles were at their end Harrison had so many songs written that Lennon and McCartney didn’t care to listen to or put time into fleshing it out.  Their loss because All Things Must Pass was a triple album masterpiece.  What Harrison had over the other two in terms of songwriting was the depth and intense mood, his touch for lyrics is also underrated, often encompassing a deeper subject matter than Lennon or McCartney ever attempted, and he never came off fake.  Beware of Darkness is one of the albums best, the lyricism is beautiful poetry, the arrangement is vastly benefited by the Wall of Sound production and the guitar solo on this one is good too.

The Pageant of The Bizarre- Zero 7

Like a carnival at night, only with singing, wonderfully done.

Black Rain, Black Rain- A.A. Bondy

There is a quality so undefinable, so comforting and soothing in a man backed with only his words and his acoustic guitar, and in all those former terms, this is one of the best.

Green Grass (Tom Waits cover)- Pascal Fricke

It’s 3 am on a Paris street, an intimate performance, and heck its written by Tom Waits, just listen to it already.

Thunder Road- Bruce Springsteen

This isn’t just simply a song or music, this is a movie, this has it all. The dream of escape and youth wrapped up in energy and excitement.

Darkness on the Edge of Town- Bruce Springsteen

With Born to Run lying in the dust behind him, his dreams of youth behind him, Bruce was beginning to see things a little darker.  This song touches on it perfectly, theres darkness at the edges and its beginning to leak in, but the arrangement pulls it off beautifully, understated, with glimmers of hope, because hope is never fully gone.

First Night- The Hold Steady

It’s almost like the first left turn out of the edge of the town Bruce spoke of lay this song, beautiful dark and simple.

Karen- The National

Power in simplicity, and it helps when you have a voice like that.

Like It Or Not (Version 2)- Architecture in Helsinki

It’s a party in a song and everybody is invited.

Long Distance Operator (Outtake)- The Band

It’s like The Band is in your living room having a jam, you can’t help but feel wonderful listening to it.

Mixtape Monday: In Ears

In Ear Park- Department of Eagles

The intro to this song is a beautiful weave of guitars and pianos going in and out like waves crashing into the shores that leads into an ethereal vocal and beautiful backing instrumentation, a lament on loss, the beauty of this song just speaks volumes

So Far Around the Bend- The National

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Boxer nor did I see the big attraction to the National until this song came out.  The lyrics are perfectly understated and performed, with a creative arrangement and a sentiment that everyone can identify with, it doesn’t hurt that the melody is so damn catchy as well

Fine For Now- Grizzly Bear

Veckatimest, the latest album by Grizzly Bear is full of songs that range from the sweet to the bizarre, Fine for Now starts off with a strangely beautiful vocal arrangement before turning into an otherworldly meld of guitar and drums and vocals, truly a song worth multiple listens

Chinese Translation- M. Ward

M. Ward has a knack for great studio production and melody, and this has a great chorus, and no theres no chinese in a single second of the recording, just a great overall song

Lost Coastlines- Okkervil River

I love the vocalist in this band, his range is affecting and his lyrics are well written, and i can hear glimmers of Paul Simons Graceland and the Jam’s Town Called Malice woven in

We Were Sick- The Thermals

Like Blink 182, fun upbeat and catchy, but better because you don’t get tired of the nasal voice and the chord progression is classic

Race You- Elizabeth and the Catapults

Little known bands often provide the most happiness to the listener when they make great catchy songs, because you feel like you’re the one discovering them, it’s a little feistish and happy and just puts you in a good mood

Wilco (The Song)- Wilco

Love this song, a little weezerish but with less pop culture reliant lyrics

Take A Walk Around the Table- White Rabbits

This song is so delightfully weird that you can’t help but listen to it over and over again

Metal Detektor- Spoon

Of all the great Spoon songs there are to choose from, this is one of, if not their finest songs ever put to record

Golden- My Morning Jacket

Beautiful acoustic guitar, beautiful singing, beautiful lyrics, need i even say more

The Golden Age- Beck

Great progression and arrangement, both of which Beck has an undeniable knack for and this is one of his finer songs

Songs for the Fireflies- Josh Ritter

This is one of those songs that feels as if the performer is right in front of you not in some far off studio and the buildup is wonderful

The Honeymoon Song- The Beatles

It’s hard to find a Beatles song that the whole world hasn’t heard millions of times.  This one comes from Live at the BBC and the arrangment lets Paul McCartneys voice take front and center, and how sweet and young he sounds, the only bad thing is the song ends so soon

Honeymoon- Phoenix

Love every part about this song, the bass, the guitar, the singing, the build up, it works perfectly

Everything Hits At Once- Spoon

Another early Spoon song, undeniably their own, from the arrangment to the melody and the buildup as well the great guitar and piano hooks

Fernando Pando- The Virgins

this son builds from intimate guitar and vocals to a great energetic arrangement.  Terrific vocal performance throughout

Changes- David Bowie

Because this song is undeniable in its classic status, love the progression and the lyrics

A Day in the Life- The Beatles

Arguably the greatest song Lennon and McCartney put together from the arrangement to the lyrics to the orchestra build up and McCartneys part.  Also the interplay between the musicians is great, McCartney’s piano and Lennon’s guitar and Ringo’s drums couldn’t have fit any better

You Got the Silver- The Rolling Stones

this song goes a long way in saying that Keith Richards was as underrated a singer and songwriter as Harrison was in The Beatles.

Mixtape Monday: Theme #1: Escapism

As I’ve been awfully bad at updating this old blog of mine for the past couple weeks I’ve decided to start a new kind of weekly post, a mixtape not dedicated to showcasing new artists all the time, but getting back to the roots of what a mixtape meant, which is to hold a theme through a variety of different artists and songs.  This inaugural mixtape theme is Escape.

The feeling of escape in music is one of the strongest themes in rock and roll, we find ourselves transfixed by the places it can bring us to, the painful emotions it can mute, the happy emotions it can bring out in sad times.  This mix doesn’t count on containing unknown songs by artists you’ll hopefully like, rather I composed it to enhance the feeling, to get lost in the world of music and somehow through it all the songs meshed together perfectly, as if the order was supposed to be this way.

  1. Born to Run- Bruce Springsteen

One of the most perfect escaping anthems ever put on paper, Bruce Springsteen was writing more than just a song when Born to Run came to be.  He had been the unknown maverick, a little known musician compared to the likes of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison in his poetry and story telling but had yet to find his sound.  But from the snare intro till the end, this song provides the escape he needed to make it big, and the escape of the American Dream that’s in all of us

  1. Son of a Preacherman- Dusty Springfield

From the beginning the guitar transfixes you, her voice takes you away

  1. September- Earth, Wind, and Fire

Sometimes escape isn’t always about going somewhere but about remembering the good times, and September is just that a remembrance of good times you had

  1. Midnight Train to Georgia-  Gladys Knight and the Pips

Because dreams don’t always come true, but sometimes its just making the effort that makes it all worthwhile

  1. Friend of the Devil- Grateful Dead

For the literal escape from our lives (if you’re a criminal)

  1. Tighter, Tighter- Alive N’ Kickin

For the escape that love can provide, even when its done by a bond that brings people closer

  1. Octopus’s Garden-  The Beatles

No matter how many years have passed by, this song will always bring you back to the innocence of your childhood and how you can take comfort in your imagination

  1. Take the Money and Run-   Steve Miller Band

For even if you do something bad once in a while, live a little, just live in the moment and have fun

  1. Hungry Heart- Bruce Springsteen

Sometimes you just want to take that wrong turn out of your driveway forget it all and never come back, it’s the essence of youth, the young and the restless

  1. Strawberry Fields Forever –  The Beatles

For escaping the barriers of your own perception

  1. Let’s Take the Long Way Home-  The Beautiful Girls

Sometimes the quickest way is not the most satisfying, theres always the road untaken waiting for you, when the time comes

  1. Bet You Never Thought-  Brighton, MA

Because sometimes it isn’t what you’d think, Life especially

  1. Rebel Rebel- David Bowie

For the inner rebel in all of us

  1. Romeo and Juliet- Dire Straits

Some songs in their stories become almost surreal in how real they feel, how you identify with the characters and the beauty within

  1. Fables- The Dodos

The story isn’t just in the words, but in the music that surrounds it as well

  1. All She Wants- The Kooks

When an artist covers another, it gets deeper because it shows where they escape to, outside of their own music, and what really influences them

  1. Heart it Races- Dr. Dog

Another escape, a mental journey expressed as physical

  1. Castles Made of Sand- Jimi Hendrix

Because no matter how great the escape, everything is fleeting

  1. Simple Twist of Fate- Bob Dylan

Because the change you want, the escape you long for, is sometimes just up to fate

  1. A Change is Gonna Come- Sam Cooke

Because the message is so powerful, and the voice just carries over everything, it’s no longer an escape, it’s an escape realized